Evaluating the Closure of Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Vendors During the Covid-19 Pandemic

JMIR Formative Research

February 1, 2021
Article on methods to evaluate fresh fruit and vegetable vendor closures

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the food retail environment. However, its impact on fresh fruit and vegetable vendors remains unclear; these are often smaller, more community centered, and may lack the financial infrastructure to withstand supply and demand changes induced by such crises. 6 NYC neighborhoods (in Manhattan and Brooklyn) were selected for analysis; these included two socioeconomically advantaged neighborhoods (Upper East Side, Park Slope), two socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods (East Harlem, Brownsville), and two Chinese ethnic neighborhoods (Chinatown, Sunset Park). For each neighborhood, Google Street View was used to virtually walk down each street and identify vendors that were open and active in 2019. Of the 135 open vendors identified in 2019 imagery data, 35% (n=47) were absent/closed and 10% (n=13) were open with more limited setups following the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. When comparing boroughs, 35% (28/80) of vendors in Manhattan were absent/closed, as were 35% (19/55) of vendors in Brooklyn. Data collection using Google Maps likewise has the potential to enhance the efficiency of fieldwork in future studies.

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